We’ve mentioned it before and we’re saying it again, business likes certainty. However, for a very long time certainty has been elusive for the business owner.
The Bill 148 legislation came into effect January 1, 2018. Before hand there was concern. Businesses had a very short time frame to institute some major changes. There was no economic analysis done by
government to understand the impact of so many changes all at once. Several independent groups , including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, issued analyses that predicted job losses of between 50 -100,000 over the next two years because of the reforms.
A survey of the Peterborough Chamber membership painted a wide array of impacts and reactions, including increased prices, decreased hours, and a lot more automation. We also heard that businesses made the changes and well, got on with business. As always there are different levels of impact. The feeling from the economic analyses and those in business is that the true impact of the changes won’t be seen until one or two years after implementation.
With the change in government we've been asked what will happen with this legislation. The short
answer is, it will remain in place. That said, one of Premier Ford’s campaign promises was to stop the second minimum wage increase, from $14 to $15, in the Bill 148 legislation. In order to do so, the legislation must be brought forward to Queen’s Park and opened to make the change. In most cases, legislation is reviewed every five years or so, but now there is potentially an opportunity coming up to get in and make changes.
The Chamber’s number one concern with the Bill 148 legislation was the speed at which it came into effect and the depth and breadth of impact in the business community. We constantly speak about the piling on effect or cumulative burden. Bill 148 introduced a significant amount of new rules, regulations and costs, on top of increased hydro rates, gas prices, and various federal regulations. Bill 148 was also intended to improve the economic prospects for the most vulnerable members of society, but it placed the burden almost squarely on the shoulders of the business community, as though we are an endless source of wealth. In addition to a longer implementation of Bill 148, the Chamber lobbied hard for income tax measures for the lowest income earners, and the completion and consideration of the Basic Income Guarantee study. This study, which included the City of Kawartha Lakes has now been cancelled, a missed opportunity for significant change in how we treat our most vulnerable.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, along with several other organizations is calling for a full repeal of Bill 148. We are asking our members to provide us with some feedback as to how they are coping with the legislative changes, and the increased costs. What are some of the mitigation measures they’ve implemented, and what do they anticipate will be the long term impacts? We are also curious to know if there are specific areas that need to be changed or receive further consideration should the legislation be opened up.